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Ray Errol Fox Headshot

The Grandly Outmoded Party Grandiosely Overlooks People

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They're still at it. President Obama wants "to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few." Republicans want "the many, and not just the few" to vote for them -- and it stops there. "Vote for us -- despite our demonstrable pledges to do nothing for you."

You've got to hand it to them; they don't pull punches. "Look at the last election!" exclaims John McCain, the man who would be president." We are losing the Hispanic vote, which should be ours for a variety of reasons." I don't pull punches either: Why on earth should "the Hispanic vote" be theirs? A former Republican campaign chairman for Maine is even blunter (and blinder): "In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens... dozens... of black people came in to vote on Election Day. I think everybody has a right to vote on election day, but nobody in town knows anybody that's black. But how did it happen? I don't know."

The president and vice-president take to the stump to appeal directly to the people. Paul Ryan, the Republicans' nominal intellectual leader, coolly deduces, "We have to expand our appeal." And? And it stops there!

How's this for expanding your appeal? Birthers threatened to sue Chief Justice John Roberts to prevent him from swearing in the president whom, they're convinced, was born on foreign soil. Michele Bachmann introduced the first bill of the 113th Congress -- to repeal "Obamacare," the 34th such proposal! A Martian would think the nation had no other problems -- no debt ceiling, no sequester threat, no Sandy devastation, no tax or security or immigration dilemmas -- no other matter of concern but the "Affordable Care Act," the most important issue to many more than just one daft Republican! Make room for another: Elois Zeanah, President of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women and Board Member of the Republican Women of Tuscaloosa County. Delivering a speech to a meeting of the Wetumpka, Ala., Tea Party, Zeanah, who once held the responsible positions of former Mayor and City Council Member of Thousand Oaks, Calif., compared President Obama to Hitler, and the adoption of Common Core -- a standardized education policy not introduced by President Obama -- to the indoctrination of children in Nazi Germany. With toxic sugarplums gyrating in her head, she divines the President of the United States teaching children (between golf outings, no doubt), clairvoyantly seeing him imposing an "anti-Christian, anti-capitalism and anti-America... pro-homosexuality, illegal immigration, unions, environmentalism, gun control, feminism and social justice" curriculum on them, concluding, "They're going to force us to pay to indoctrinate our own kids!" Never to be outdone, the (national) Tea Party, in print ads and e-mails admonishing "Stop America's Hitler," graphically depicts the president, Hitlerian mustache added gratis, as Der Führer.

The foregoing madness prompts me to propose we take a cue from the current gun control debate and require mental health background checks for anyone seeking public office. It should state that sanity be a more important requirement than where someone was born. At its most modest, it would keep the country safe from Donald Trump.

So, how's this for reaching out? With the new Congress little more than a month in session, roughly twice as many House Republicans voted against the "Violence Against Women Act" as for it and three-quarters of Senate Republicans opposed the Hurricane Sandy relief bill? A Romney adviser criticized Governor Christie for thanking the President of all the United States for coming to the aid of Sandy-devastated New Jersey, contending, "Christie allowed Obama to be president, not a politician." He's telling us what we knew when we went to the polls: Romney, recognizably not much of a politician, would have been less as a president. What they're all telling us is ask not what we can do for the country, ask what the country can do for us.

The president declares he is willing to compromise. The Gut Obama's Priorities gang declares "no way." The president states, "I've laid out a plan that details how we can pay down our deficit in a way that's balanced and responsible. We have the plan right on a website, the White House website. Everybody can go see it." A grown man who cries wolf, Speaker John Boehner reflexively howls, "Put something on the table!" leaving one to wonder: Is the distance from a website to "the table" so vast he can't navigate it?

They'll be at it again... and again. When the next elections roll around, the needle will be stuck in the same groove. Democratic candidates will still be talking about people as individuals, while Republicans will still be talking (carelessly) about people as if they are sheep who can be herded together by an obedient dog. Republicans want to represent voting groups, not people.